Fischer, a non-exempt LPGA Tour player at the time of her first win, had a long amateur career in Germany. She turned pro in 1995 at the age of 25 and played in Europe for a few years before trying her luck in America. Finally, after jumping back and forth between the LPGA Tour and the Futures Tour, Fischer had her payoff.
I actually thought of not playing at all anymore, Fischer said after her win last year. I mean, when you go out there, and I did really well in Europe, I won a few tournaments over there, then I went back to the Futures Tour here. I didn't really play very well at the beginning of last year. It was just like, 'I don't know if I can make it.'
Then I thought, 'I'm better than that.'
Fischer navigated the hilly terrain of Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Course, recording 70-66-70 (206) to finish the weather-shortened event at 10-under, edging out Tracy Hanson and Emilee Klein by a stroke.
This week a full field of 144 players converge for the third time at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Course located in North Augusta, S.C., just 12 miles north of Augusta National. They will compete for a piece of the $1,250,000 purse on the par-72 course, designed by architect Tom Jackson, which boasts 7,107 yards of diverse and challenging conditions. A total of $180,000 will go to the winner.
Notables in the field are Annika Sorenstam, four-time major winner Laura Davies, Rosie Jones, Lorie Kane, Cristie Kerr, Grace Park and Hall of Fame member Betsy King. Beth Bader, pupil of TGC's medical editor Dr. James Rippe is also in the field this week.
Sorenstam, fresh off her win at the Aerus Electrolux USA Championship, finished last years event two strokes behind Fischer.
Sponsor exemptions wend to 15-year-old Shinobu Moromizato, the top junior amateur golfer from Japan, and Michelle Wei. This is Weis second 2002 appearance on the LPGA. Wei Monday-qualified for the LPGA TakeFuji Classic in February becoming the youngest player in history ever to do so. Unfortunately, she missed the cut by two strokes.
Wie tees off No. 1 in the last afternoon group while Moromizato tees off simotaniously on No. 10 at 1:50PM.
Two fun groups to watch Thursday are Pat Hurst, Akiko Fukushima and Dawn Coe-Jones (8:50Am, No.1) and Tina Fischer, Lorie Kane and A.J. Eathorne (12:00PM, No.1).